Europe’s citizens are not sufficiently protected against seasonal flu according to a recently published EU Commission Report.
Findings in the Report on the follow-up and implementation of the 2009 Council Recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination highlight that a majority of national governments are far from achieving the 75% seasonal flu vaccination coverage rate (VCR) target set by the recommendation for older population groups, at risk groups affected by chronic conditions or comorbidities, and healthcare workers.
The European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC) data show that VCR in the elderly has, in most cases, declined since the recommendation was issued. Even in countries such as the Netherlands and the UK, where VCR has historically come close to meeting the Council’s target, uptake has fallen.
“The EU Commission Report shows that having a vaccination strategy in place is not enough, and more needs to be done on both political and logistic levels to step-up efforts to satisfactorily meet the unmet public health needs of vulnerable groups” says Vaccines Europe President Andrea Rappagliosi. “Industry is ready to collaborate with the Commission, ECDC, and National Governments to tackle the three major gaps identified, namely: lack of coverage, low perception of risk and skepticism of flu effectiveness”.
Seasonal influenza causes an average of 38,500 premature deaths every winter in the EU. A Vaccines Europe study on the potential impact of the Council Recommendation shows that around 3.2 million influenza cases and nearly 70,000 hospitalisations could be averted if the 75% target were to be achieved, saving avoidable costs to already strained healthcare systems.